Santa Barbara plays hard hitting game to beat Buena and stay in first place | Sports
VENTURA — The Santa Barbara High football team used the hard hitting game to close in on a piece of a Channel League championship Friday night in Buena.
The Dons dropped Nathan Barrios on the Bulldogs and got a terrific showing from their defense in the second half of a 42-23 victory.
Santa Barbara improves to 6-1 in the league (8-1 overall) and remains tied for first place in the league standings with Rio Mesa and Pacifica, both of which won their games Friday night. Buena drops to fourth place at 5-2.
The Dons can earn a tie for the Channel League title with a win over crosstown rival San Marcos next Friday night in the regular season finale.
Barrios rushed for four touchdowns — two in each half — and rushed for 210 yards on 17 carries as Santa Barbara played old-school football. Quarterback Abel Renteria also ran for a touchdown and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kai Mault.
Kai Mault catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Abel Renteria in the third quarter. (Photo by Gary Kim/Noozhawk)
“He’s been waiting all year (for a game like this),” Santa Barbara coach JT Stone said of Barrios’ great performance. of the ball. But he was our best football player last year and he is our best football player again.
Santa Barbara’s ability to run the football was a big factor in the win.
“We came here with the plan to wear Buena down,” Stone said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that go both ways. This No. 27 (quarterback/punter/kicker/linebacker Zane Carter) is a flippin’ super stallion, hats off to him. But we knew this type of game from football for us was really gonna be won in the trenches. “Let’s do this, let’s hit them hard, let’s get the football going and wear these guys down and have them chase us down the field.”
“And our offensive line, I think we ran the ball for a decent amount of yards tonight, so I was really, really happy with our offensive line and how our plan was going.”
Barrios said a pregame speech he used from Detroit Lions player Jamaal Williams on the HBO show “Hard Knocks” got him excited and the Dons were fired up for the game.
“It really went to my heart,” he said of the speech, which basically said the puppies stay on the porch and the big dogs go eat. “I wanted to be that big dog on the court today. And, the O line has gone crazy. I love them.”
Santa Barbara defenders converge on Buena wide receiver Coin Guenther. (Photo by Gary Kim/Noozhawk)
Barrios had touchdown passes for 19 and 7 yards in the first half as the Dons led 22-17. A 2-yard run stretched the lead to 35-17 in the third quarter and he took the win with a 50-yard getaway with 2:42 left in the game.
Santa Barbara made it known early on that she wanted to beat the ball against Buena. He ran the ball on six of their first eight plays in their opener. But the drive stalled and the Dons kicked. Buena missed the punt and Murphy Cisneros recovered at the Bulldogs’ 14.
On the first down, Barrios went the distance for a touchdown. Roark Norton kicked off the PAT for a 7-0 lead at 7:13 of the first quarter.
Buena came out flying when he got the ball. Carter was hot, completing five passes on a 67-yard drive and ending the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. The PAT tied the score at 7-7 at 3:48.
The Bulldogs got the ball back when Erick Guzman knocked out Renteria. Carter hit Camden Walker for a 21-yard gain to put the ball on the Santa Barbara 14 and Buena took the lead on a 2-yard run from Carter.
Santa Barbara responded with a 9-play, 67-yard practice that featured eight plays on the way. Renteria scored the touchdown on a 6-yard run. Kai Mault ran for the 2-point conversion to put the Dons ahead 15-14 at 7:07 of the second quarter.
Carter, with the help of a 44-yard run from Walker, once again led the Bulldogs down the field. They reached the 7 before Santa Barbara linebacker Julian Castro crossed the line and dropped Stevie Plahn for a 2-yard loss on third down. Carter threw a 26-yard field goal to put Buena back in the lead, 17-15, at 4:32 of the second quarter.
Santa Barbara stuck to their game plan of hitting the ball with Koa Herrera, Barrios and Renteria, who also mixed in a few short passes. On the third-and-third of the 7, Renteria faked a throw sweep with Winston Bartley and handed the ball to Barrios for a 7-yard touchdown and a 22-17 lead.
Buena benefited from a few major Santa Barbara penalties to attempt a 43-yard field goal late in the first half, but Carter’s attempt fizzled.
“We’re really happy with where we’re going,” Buena coach Ryan Bolland said. “(Santa Barbara) is really good, they’re really good defensively. They do a lot of different things, give a lot of different looks. They made adjustments and we spat a bit.”
The Santa Barbara defense came out on top on Buena’s first possession in the second half. Linebacker Benicio Garcia-Holland stopped Carter on the quarterback tie on third of 19 downs, leaving the Bulldogs to go for a 33-yard field goal. The kick was wide to the left.
“We knew we had to hit 27 and we did,” Stone said.
The Dons attack took over from there. The line opened up a hole for Barrios and he went 51 yards to the Buena 25. On the next play, Renteria went airborne and found Mault in the end zone for a 25-yard strike, increasing the advance to 28-17. at 4:47 of the third quarter.
The Santa Barbara defense started to put more pressure on Carter and it paid off. With Damian Stehno and Roark crossing the Bulldogs offensive line, Carter threw a pass that was intercepted by Andrew Tobin of the Dons at Buena 32 and returned at 22.
Four Barrios runs later, it was 35-17 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
“They thought we were a little softer in the middle and they were really beefy in the middle. And that was kind of what meant being the difference on the stretch,” Bolland said.
Buena got another touchdown as backup quarterback Ty Weeks scored on a 3-yard run.
But the Dons returned to Barrios and the senior looped 50 yards for the tiebreaker.